Left: Daniel Libeskind (Ilan Besor); Right: Off the Wall (courtesy Cosentino)
At Cosentino’s launch of Dekton, AN had an opportunity to sit down with Daniel Libeskind. The world-renowned architect designed an outdoor sculpture, Off the Wall, made from the new material that weathers like stone but has manufactured advantages of specialized color, texture, and form, thanks to Cosentino’s particle sintering technology (PST) that simulates metamorphic rock formation at a highly accelerated rate. It originally debuted this spring at Salone del Mobile in Milan.
AN: You studied music in Israel. Do you find any of your classical music training to inform your design and architecture work? Daniel Libeskind: Totally. Even though I was a virtuoso performer I continue to use that sense of my relationship to music very deeply in my work. Architecture and music are closely related in many ways. They’re both very precise: In music, even a vibration cannot be off by a single half note. And it’s the same with architecture; the geometry, the spatial character of a building must be accurate.
And in the end, they’re very similar in the sense that despite their scientific basis and precision, they have to register emotionally. In other words, we don’t think about the music, or an atmosphere that affects us spiritually. From the way a score is written and has to be performed by an orchestra, an architect doesn’t build his building. Sometimes he is not apparently there; the architect is more like a conductor of a concerto. It’s full of closeness for me.
To continue the musical analogy, would you say the style of your work is more traditional and evenly phrased like Mozart, or neoclassically experimental like Stravinsky? Music to me is not really in categories of classical or rap or rock or medieval or Gregorian. Really, it’s a universal language of rhythm, sound, and tempo. I would say each of my projects has its own musical quality. Acoustics themselves are so important in my work. In the Jewish Museum in Berlin, I designed an entire void for the acoustics. And let’s not also forget that our sense of balance isn’t in our eye but in our inner ear. All of these things converge on my set of interests.
Libeskind’s sketch for Off the Wall (courtesy Cosentino)
What are your impressions of the acoustic and/or technical qualities of Dekton? I think Dekton is a great material. First, it’s not just reusing old materials. It brings qualities of porcelain, glass, and quartz together through a new technique of creating the material. Which I think has a lot of incredible characteristics, both acoustical, visual, and also tactile.
The sculpture you designed in Dekton for Cosentino has a spiral quality with intersecting corners that suggest an indoor/outdoor application. It’s a spiral, that organically grows but also uses the tectonic means of planes to ascend through movement toward light. Each face has a different quality of light and movement because of where it’s placed, so it is a sculpture but its also an architectural microcosm that suggests an ability to create spaces that are really fluid and very tectonic.
Any ideal applications for Dekton, not just for your practice but for architects in general? I think in large-scale walls—because, you know, architecture contains walls—to create a beautiful sense of light and resilience with the material. It has great technical qualities—rigidity and imperviousness to water—and also aesthetically in terms of color, texture, and materiality. And for exteriors, because I’m working on buildings in mega scales, I think it’s a very good material because if you think of other cladding materials, you can’t really compete with this technical ability.
The interior/exterior possibilities are also exceptional. Most of my buildings have a sculptural form. They’re never just a box; they’re spatial forms that most often have never been seen before. In that sense, the question of inside/outside is very important because in my work there’s no division like a cube where its very clear. Those buildings, like that spiral I’ve created for Cosentino, are both inside and outside simultaneously. It can be used in floors that merge into walls that merge into soffits and Dekton can achieve that seamlessly in large scales.
Do you foresee Dekton playing a role in any of your future projects? Oh definitely. We’re working on a number of large-scale building projects around the world and I’m determined to use it because I love the material. For example we have a very large project in Sao Paolo that hasn’t been made public yet. We also have some creative opportunities in China and Singapore.
Back to music, do you have a favorite band or album you’re currently listening to? I’m from the era of CDs—not records!—but not yet MP3s. On my table lays music that spans millennia: ancient Greece, the latest rap recordings, Helmut Lachenmann, one of the great composers from Germany. Music is always fantastic.
A model of Libeskind’s Off the Wall is on view at the Center for Architecture in New York, as part of the Surface Innovation exhibition that runs through the end of October.